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Only the Fittest Shall Survive.

Global Domain Name Identities:

To select a universal domain name, wise companies must conduct a survey to determine where and how their present domain names are coming from; how many different types of names they have and why; how they are spelled and composed, that is, with slashes, dashes and symbols; and what results the name is expected to produce.

Chart out a global strategy and with the help of a directory, select your countries and plan a domain name registration scenario. Your goal must be clear: a name that will work in conjunction with your trademark and in worldwide e-commerce.

In this new millennium, only the very best names will dominate the global marketplace. Weak, confusingly similar, or nearly identical names do not have a chance of surviving the power and ubiquity of electronic commerce. The duplication factor alone will bury most names in complex global listings.

In a nutshell: How will your customers or shareholders be able to find you?

Naming, and all corporate communication in the virtual society, will be fluid. Unlike the early days of print, or the TV society that could direct its own size, shape, style and color, the world of tomorrow will find many of our attempts to reach out to be beyond our control. Already, zillions of wireless images and messages are screaming for attention on hundreds of millions of fluid screens. This new society could well gobble up single global icons like a giant bowl of cereal--and in a nanosecond--leaving a small number of elite global names to dominate the entire world.

While we are worried about dot coms, 246 nations around the globe have their own nTLDs (national top level domain) e.g., .jp for Japan and .cn for China.

Each country has its own independent policy and guidelines, and each country wants to influence Internet governance, e-commerce and public access, without violating its relevant domestic trademark laws. For big players in electronic commerce, such as multinational corporations and global brands, it is essential to realize that Internet domain names are becoming a complex and powerful weapon in e-commerce warfare.

It is highly recommended that qualified specialists be consulted before you select a global domain name.

The Future of the Domain Name System

While corporations throughout the world are racing to secure good names, the Internet community is still fighting over the governance of domain names. After two years of dialogue with Internet organizations, the U.S. White House finally released its long-awaited white paper on domain names.

In brief, it washed its hands of the entire matter, seeking understanding and cooperation from all the affected groups--these, the purported gatekeepers of the so-called Internet Society.

The domain name system is the pillar of electronic commerce, and in e-commerce is more important than the Internet itself. For those who are monitoring the outcome of this proposed nonprofit electronic bureaucracy, here are some possible scenarios:

* A complete breakdown of the domain name registration system.

* Anarchy on the Internet, allowing anybody to register anything. Registrars throw in the towel. The trademark office threatens to shut down. Intellectual property becomes public domain. The part-time guy at the local Pizza Hut answers the phone, "This is IBM--how can I help you?"

* A numbering system similar to our telephone takes over, destroying all the fun of promoting and advertising interesting web names, replaced by dull numerical sequences. Try to find something then!

* Battalions of lawyers around the world will declare war on each other, enforcing conflicting points of view in endless battles over trademarks.

Clap your hands as fast as you can for a few moments. That will suggest the speed at which new names are being registered, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year, around the globe.

Very soon, the number of registrations will reach to some 100,000 new domain names per day... Welcome to the crisis.

Why the Chaos?

The business community has simply not come to grips with the domain name crisis. This is largely because domain name issues are foolishly considered to be merely a part of data processing and are left to the web servers to sort out.

The issue at hand: rules to govern registration of domain names. The difficulty is that there are more applications for domain names than languages or creativity can support. As a cop-out, the Internet administrators proposed having the same domain name made available under a different suffix. For example, could belong to Kodak, while could belong to an old lady in a bakery in Turkey, and kodak.nom could belong to a kid in Hong Kong who uses that as a pen name for writing poetry on the wrath of Mortal Kombat. This solution is a fiasco in the making.

The consumer demand for web addresses has skyrocketed, of course. And what easier action on the part of web-host than to give people any name of their choice? Domain name registration is a highly lucrative business. But the availability of new names has reached the point of no return: the introduction of one new suffix is like a Pandora's Box, as it opens the door to millions of new names. The recent request to bring six new top-level domain suffixes -- .firm, .shop, .web, .arts, .rec, .info, .nom -- as an international standard has been passed back by the U.S. White House to the Internet community, urging them to achieve some peace and harmony. Where will these top-level domain name suffixes end? At what point will there be a need for dozens of additional ones to be added to this list? Names such as .meat, .beef, .food, .pizza, .etc?

Why is it that a telephone listing or a car registration program works fairly for everybody, in that you cannot get a telephone listing for your cottage at the lake in the name of Microsoft or Coca-Cola or even Michael Jordan (unless that's the name on your birth certificate)? You can hardly get your car registered in the name of Federal Express or FBI. The common-law approach of the civilized world has protected names of businesses and their trademarks as their intellectual property, backed by a simple principle: "Your business name will not be allowed to be confused with someone else's business name, and you must be protected from somebody else trying to confuse your business name with his." This "law" never suggested, "Heck, if the name Microsoft isn't available, you can feel free to register the name Microsoft-Plus or Microsoft-Super."

The Internet is one of the biggest phenomena of the twentieth century, and it is having a profound effect on every aspect of our lives. Yet to come is the far, far greater impact of electronic commerce.

The success of this new kind of business depends on the credibility of the system to ensure proper identification of each and every company and service on the Net. Otherwise, electronic commerce would end up as just another fancy video game.

Will there be peace and harmony among the Internet gatekeepers? Not a chance. Will there be a solution for big and small businesses to have proper domain name registration? Maybe.

This is a wake-up call for businesses, and one that will drive the electronic commerce of the future. It is sending a loud, clear message to the gatekeepers: "It's all in the name!"

A good name means power -- for a corporation, a product, a service, a magazine, a computer, a football team, a soft drink, a fashion label -- for everything. If a business has a mediocre or weak name (or an obscure, obscene, sexist one--in any language or culture), or a name that is easily confused with others, or gets tied up in courts--it can find itself in a deep, alpha-numeric soup.

Naseem Javed is founder of ABC Namebank International, a corporate name development company in New York and Toronto.
COPYRIGHT 2000 International Association of Business Communicators
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2000, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Javed, Naseem
Publication:Communication World
Date:Feb 1, 2000
Next Article:Leaders, Take Us To Your Communicator.

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